The term domino is used to describe a series of events that start small and lead to much greater—or even catastrophic—consequences. You might hear it used in a story about an earthquake or a train wreck that starts with one domino that tips over and creates a chain reaction, or you might see it set up at a Domino’s Pizza restaurant for a promotion or event.
Dominoes are rectangular pieces of a material such as wood or cardboard that have an arrangement of spots or pips on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. The most common dominoes have a number or a symbol printed on each of their squares, but they can also be made blank so that they can be ascribed any value by the players. There are many different games that can be played with a set of dominoes; the most basic Western game is a block-and-draw game for two or more players. The dominoes are shuffled and each player draws at random the number of pieces required for the game, usually seven. The remaining pieces are left behind on the table, called the stock or boneyard. The leader plays first, generally playing the highest domino in the deck.
Some people use the dominoes to create works of art, such as straight lines or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, or 3D structures like pyramids. Lily Hevesh, a young artist who goes by the name Hevesh5, has created a YouTube channel with more than 2 million subscribers where she shows off her spectacular domino creations.
Hevesh started playing with dominoes as a child when she got her grandparents’ classic 28-pack. She loved setting them up in long lines and flicking the first domino, watching them fall in a chain reaction. Now, at 20, she makes a living as a professional domino artist. Her clients include movie studios, TV producers, and musicians.
In addition to creating amazing works of art, Hevesh is also a domino prodigy who can build complex chains and effects on stage. These shows feature dominoes arranged in long rows with the first domino tipped over, leading to a dazzling show of physics and mathematics that delight audiences.
Physicist Stephen Morris agrees that dominoes can be quite powerful. When they stand upright, they have potential energy, or stored energy based on their position. When a domino falls, this energy is converted from potential to kinetic—the energy of motion—and it can knock over dominoes that are up to about twice their size.
The domino effect is a popular leadership theory that suggests leaders are “like dominoes,” meaning that their actions have great influence on those around them. In the case of Domino’s, the company has adopted a leadership style that relies heavily on behavioral theory, in which employees are encouraged to make decisions for themselves and to help their colleagues grow. This allows managers to be more flexible and responsive to changing needs, which is an important factor in the company’s success.